BEACHCOMBER HOUSE – NINO SYDNEY 1961
Located in Faulconbridge overlooking the gorges of the Grose Valley the Beachcomber House was designed in June 1961 by Croation born architect Nino Sydney. The then fledgeling building company Lend Lease presented Nino’s Beachcomber Le Corbusier inspired design and four others such as the Safari and Pan Pacific in the now legendary Carlingford Estate. Opening in spectacular style on Oct 13 1961, thousands flocked to what soon proved to be an historic and culturally revolutionary event. Significantly, Nino and his team introduced for the first time truly affordable designer built project homes. These were available to the ordinary citizen, a feat that literally changed the face of Australian living standards and virtually overnight – as discussed and featured in the recent television series ‘Building Australia’ and the Powerhouse museum book ‘Designer Suburbs’. Today Beachcomber is used to describe the entire genre of elevated homes.
As a young student in the early 1950s Nino Sydney was an ardent fan of the radical Purist principles of Le Corbusier. Likewise, Le Corbusier favoured the flamboyant style of Oscar Niemeyer and restraint of Bauhaus style generally. By using a matchbox partially opened with stick legs Nino Sydney illustrated to Dirk Dusseldorph of Lend Lease, how they would soon produce a Le Corbusier style house for the Australian budget and climate.
Today the stunning homes titled Beachcomber, Safari, and Pan Pacific are quietly located throughout urban zones, and still contrast starkly with less modernist designs that have come to surround them. These mid century classics are a rare and somewhat endangered species that are directly related to one of modernisms greatest architects, Le Corbusier.
The architect Nino Sydney simply states “The Beachcomber main supports are steel, top structure metal clad hardwood insulated with wool. The design was suitable Sydney’s bushy and sloping areas. Great for rocky outcrops and gum trees. It treated land very lightly. It became a very economical and suitable home for young families. The first Beachcomber featured three large walls painted in primary colours, and was full of light given the walls stop internally and are topped out with glass panels.” This statement by Nino Sydney, is arguably a perfect summation of what is more broadly defined as Sydney Style.